a moment on the lips…and you know the rest

19 Apr

I’ve written before on here that I work for Weight Watchers. What a lot of people don’t tend to realize is that to work for Weight Watchers, you need to be a lifetime member of the program. This means that you need to have hit your goal weight and remained in your goal range in order to work for the company. People who come into the stores or see me working at the weigh-in stations tend to not realize that you need to have done the program and lost weight to work for the company, and they always seem to assume that I’ve lost 20 pounds at most, despite the fact that I wear a nametag that says “Weight Watchers, Alaina, I lost 66 pounds in 2008”. I guess people don’t read nametags anymore (folks nowadays, huh?) or are just more for jumping to conclusions or assumptions about people, but we pretty much lay it right out there for all members to see that we have been through the program, are on the program, and we know what they’re going through. Everyone who works for the company has been where the members have been and we are still dealing with our own weight loss battles, despite our successes.

So I lost my weight in 2008, but my weight loss journey began far before then. I’ve never actually written anything about losing my weight, but I feel the desire to now for some reason. I might as well share my story since I’m constantly grasping for topics to write posts about. So congratulations, (imaginary) reader! You get to read my story, whether you want to or not (don’t you DARE go to a different website, you hear me?)!

As I said, my journey began before 2008, probably about 10 years before. The first time I thought to myself that I needed to go on a diet was when I was eight years old. I had started gaining weight and I decided that I should do something about it. I didn’t tell my mother I thought I needed to go on a diet, I just tried to eat more fruit pretty much. That’s what television taught me a diet was: eating fruit. But, I was eight. When you’re eight, you’re usually not as much in control of what you eat as you’d like to be. And also, what an eight year old would like to eat is probably lots of ice cream. So I was already getting that. Also, most members of my family have struggled with weight problems throughout their lives, so we really weren’t the best support system for one another in terms of trying to lose weight and learn to live a healthy lifestyle. My main point here is that what bothers me is the fact that I was eight years old and I thought I was fat. At the time I obviously didn’t think much of it, but looking back, it’s so sad to me that I was thinking that way about myself. I think that part of this realization came from secretly knowing that I could never own a life-size Barbie because the commercials advertised the owner of the Barbie sharing clothes with her, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to do that because I would be too big. Just add that to the list of what’s wrong with Barbie and our society (more like what isn’t wrong with Barbie, amirite?).

All through middle and high school, I struggled with my weight. I always felt like I was the heaviest of all of my friends. On top of this, I hang out with a lot of small and short people, so I felt like a monster in comparison. I just never felt like I was cute or looked good like my other friends did. I don’t know if my friends felt cute, they probably didn’t because middle school is like walking slowly through hell while being whipped and having your braces mercilessly tightened consistently for three years, but I thought that my friends all looked cute and wore cute clothes. Boys liked my friends. Boys did not like me (not much has changed except that now, no one likes me). As I got older I learned that this wasn’t the end all of life, but it was fucking middle school. As I said, three years of walking through hell slowly. Seemingly no end in sight. Of course then I thought life was miserable because boys didn’t like me. If “Lizzie McGuire” had taught me anything, it was to be as cute and adorable as possible to win over your crush. I was neither cute nor adorable. I eventually learned after a few years to use my personality to charm (hence why I’m the uproarious person you see in front of you today), but for the most part I feel like I was pretty unpleasant and as I have stated, I felt like a monster.

Once, I was considering performing in a talent show with some of the other girls in my grade, and I went to a friend’s house to figure out outfits to wear. The girls decided they wanted to wear halter tops, which I did not own because I tried to avoid showing off my arms and rest of body at all costs when I was in middle school and then for pretty much all of high school and into college for a while. I wore floor length dusters when one should never wear a floor length duster (i.e. never. You should never wear a floor length duster). My friend told me I could borrow one of hers, but it was a bit tight on me. By “a bit tight”, I mean it flat out didn’t fit me. As a side note, I was never imagining that I was heavier than my friends. I physically always had been from 8 years old on. Anyway, we decided we should saran wrap my stomach to try to hold it in. And then we did that. We actually practiced wrapping saran wrap around my stomach to try to flatten it. Nothing went as planned and I ended up not being in the talent show (but come to think of it, I feel like the talent show itself was canceled or something. I don’t think I formally just quit the group because I felt too uncomfortable. Probably for the best if it was canceled, no one needs to see middle schoolers doing poorly choreographed dances), and although my friend wasn’t making fun of me for being heavier, it was the first time someone really noticed my weight problem and acknowledged aloud to me that I was heavier (see, I told you I wasn’t imagining it). It’s one thing to know that yourself, but really another thing for someone to point it out to you, despite how innocently they may be doing so.

But, that was really all there was in my life having to do with other people being a negative factor in my own thinking that I was fat. When most people talk about their weight loss journeys, they mention being teased about their weight throughout their k-12 years. I thankfully never had many experiences with that, aside from one or two encounters (one of these times being when a boy told me and my friend that we were the “fat sisters who looked alike” or something to that nature. It was very clever of him. The second experience was my grandfather lovingly telling me that I would get a boyfriend if I lost weight. I brushed it off as him being an old man); my low-blows came more from what I knew or thought I couldn’t do due to my size rather than from anyone actually pointing it out.

The fat-shaming came from not being able to shop at the same trendy stores as my friends because of my size, or because the store’s twisted version of my size was majorly skewed (I’m referring to the store Limited Too, mostly. I never even bothered stepping foot in there because I didn’t even want to bother trying on clothes and bringing down my self-esteem more).

It came in the form of not being able to understand what feeling satisfied from eating was, because I was constantly shoving food in my mouth as a way to handle all feelings, so I only knew what feeling sick to my stomach was. It came from not being able to adequately deal with my feelings because I was taught and thought for far too long in my life that food was the solution to every single emotion.

It was not being able to run the mile in gym at a normal time because of my asthma, which I still have regardless of my size, but I know was horribly worse when I was heavier. It was knowing I would never feel comfortable in dance costumes because I’d have to add on straps or extra material, and then the proceeding feelings of dread over having to wear them in front of other people at recitals because dance costumes, while usually unflattering regardless of size, happened to look even worse on my lumpy and uneven body.

It was always just the little things that no one would think to consider a source of what was bringing me down. Yes, negativity came from the outside world and outside factors. Obviously the media shows us what we should look like, that especially being true for women (from birth until death we’re taught how we should look a certain way), but it was really from taking what was fed to me from outside sources and how I chose to eat up and interpret them in my own way. People didn’t come up to me and tell me I was fat; I already knew from what I couldn’t do that I was fat. And I hate using the word fat because it just sounds so ugly, but when you’re at that point and you feel that way, it’s really the only way to describe how you perceive yourself. But, my point is that while all of the outside factors surrounding me were telling me to look and be a certain way, my unhappiness with my weight was ultimately on me.

So, when my mother asked me if I wanted to join Weight Watchers with her, I was at the point where I didn’t even hesitate to say “yes”. I needed to for me, because I was so fed up with myself, I was at my heaviest weight, and I just did not feel good about myself in the slightest. Weight Watchers taught me portion control and how to make smarter eating choices. I joined the program right before my senior year of high school and lost the weight through that year and the beginning of freshman year of college, and I think that was the best time for me to ever join. I can’t even think of how different my college experience would have been if I hadn’t lost the weight and had an understanding of how to eat while I was in school.

But, I have to stress that I didn’t automatically feel a huge boost of confidence because I lost weight. I felt better about myself, but I was still at the point of comparing myself to other women around me, because that’s what I’d been doing to myself my whole life. And I still do it now; I think it’s impossible to not compare yourself to other people at least every once in a while. But, I do feel like I was more outgoing once I got to college because I was at least happier with myself. I was happy that I had lost the weight, but I was also really proud of myself for doing so. I lost 66.6 pounds in total, and it still makes me happy to think about that fact that I accomplished that because it really has helped shape me into the person I am today. My mother always says that she thinks joining Weight Watchers was the best thing we’ve ever done together, and I am prone to agree with her. I don’t know where I’d be today if I hadn’t joined the program. I don’t know how I’d look, or more importantly, how’d I’d feel currently. Because while we all want to look good, I really did learn that how you feel about yourself is really most important. It sounds like such a simple lesson, but getting yourself to the point where you’re not horrified and angry with yourself all the time is really more difficult to do than some people understand. I still struggle with not getting mad at myself about certain choices I make, but at least I can say it’s not on a consistent daily basis anymore, and more often than not, I at least still feel healthy, or I know what to do to get myself back to feeling healthy. I’m learning (slowly) to accept my body for what it is, despite the flaws I know I still have. I’ve put a lot of work into doing that and perceiving myself more positively, and no one can take it away from me.

And thus ends the “positive” Alaina post of the week. As I always say, at least no one reads this blog. It might take away my cynical, pessimistic, cool kid edge if someone were to read such positivity coming from me. This stays between us. Just me and nobody.

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